Tracing Your Germanic Ancestors


It’s a pleasure to announce this newest edition to the Tracing Your Ancestors series. I’ve long had an interest in German research, and have written various items on the subject in the past. This last year, I was asked by Ed Zapletal, of Moorshead Magazines, to write a booklet for their Tracing Your Ancestors series. After several stops and starts, I settled in and wrote steadily from March until June 14, when I sent the manuscript off for publication. I’d thought that I had already had much of the copy on hand, but when I began to write, I realized that very little of what I had on hand was fully up-to-date. Much has been added to German research sources and techniques in the last several years. So a lot of new information is to be found in this booklet. German ancestral research represents one of the largest areas of interest in the USA, and I’m proud to be able to make my contribution.

The Following Table of Contents in found in the volume:

  • Finding The Place Of Origin; Locate your Germanic ancestors’ home villages
  • Genealogical “Hail Mary!” Search; Using German surname distribution maps
  • German Maps & Gazetteers; Don’t overlook these important resources
  • Passenger & Immigration Records; Trace your ancestors’ travels to their new homeland
  • Online German Research; We show you the key online resources for researching your Germanic ancestors
  • German Parish & Civil Records; Where to locate the vital records for the birth, marriage, and death of your ancestors
  • German Census Records; We look at where to locate German census records and the best way to access them

Following is a List of Headings and Tables found throughout the book. I haven’t attempted to include the subheadings.

  • Cousins and Finding the Place of Origins in Family Papers
  • Find Your Ancestor’s Place of Origin in Books and Newspapers
  • Immigration and Naturalization Records and Passenger Lists Used for Place of Origin
  • Place of Origin Found in American Church Records
  • Place of Origin Found in Federal, State and County Records
  • Place of Origin Found Through Other Online Sources
  • Geogen Surname Mapping
  • Namensforschung
  • German Surname Maps
  • Why Maps and Gazetteers?
  • Places with the Same Name
  • Anglicization of German Place Names
  • Name Variations Due to Border Changes
  • Maps for Many Purposes
  • What you will find in German Maps & Facts for Genealogy
  • Online Maps and Gazetteers
  • Meyers Orts- Gazetteer
  • Immigrants Often Traveled With Friends
  • Early Colonial Passenger Lists
  • Philadelphia Was the Arrival Port – Southwest Germany Was the Homeland
  • Why go to America? (Up Until 1850)
  • Passenger Lists Beginning in 1820
  • Why Go to America? (From 1850 to 1860)
  • Passenger Lists Beginning in 1850 – The Port of Bremen
  • Table of Online Indexed Passenger Ship Lists
  • Internet Access to the Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1834
  • Microfilm Access to the Hamburg Passenger Lists
  • Interpreting Column Headers in the Hamburg Passenger Lists
  • Port of Le Havre, France
  • Castle Garden 1855-1890
  • The Barge Office
  • Ellis Island 1892-1954
  • Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935
  • Naturalization Records
  • Manumission Records
  • German Databases
  • Indexed Databases at
  • Browsable Databases at
  • International Genealogical Index (IGI) Online
  • Using for German Ancestry Research
  • Free Records at [Over 700 Databases!]
  • Other German Databases Found at
  • American Records Dealing with Germans found at
  • Translating Online German Websites
  • Ortsfamilienbücher – Town Genealogies
  • 30 Helpful Online German Research Resources
  • You Have the Place – Now Where Did They attend Church?
  • Using the Map Guide to German Parish Registers
  • Researching Protestant German Church Records at
  • Timeline For German Church & Civil Vital Records Research
  • Civil Registration of Vital Records
  • Guide to Terminology Used in German Vital Records
  • Words Commonly found in German Vital Records with English Equiv.
  • Words Meaning Cause of Death, Illnesses & Diseases in German Vital Records
  • Understanding Latin, Symbols, & Abbreviations found in Parish Records
  • Months or Signs of the Zodiac Found in Church Records
  • Symbols found in Parish Registers
  • German Abbreviations Found in Parish Registers
  • Censuses of the German States & Free Cities – From 1816 to 1864, 1867 National & 1871-1916 Federal [with a listing of all German census years by state or free city from 1816 to 1916]

This book is also available in PDF format.

Tracing Your Germanic Ancestors; by Leland K. Meitzler from the Publishers of Your Genealogy Today, Internet Genealogy & History Magazine; 2016; 8.5×11; saddle-stapled; 66 pp; Item #: FR0121; Regularly $9.95; on sale for 15% off for a limited time: Just $8.46

Please note that we’re also running a bundle promotion on this volume, as well as the new German Census Records 1816-1916 at 20% off, and an additional $4.50 postage savings through the sale period. Click on this link to purchase the bundle (for a total savings of $13.48). Click here to read the blog about the bundle promotion.

Flash Sale – 20% off select Family Tree Books

The following books are all on sale at 20% off, through July 5 or while supplies last.

The Family Tree Polish, Czech And Slovak Genealogy Guide, How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe; by Lisa A Alzo

Trace Your German Roots Online, A Complete Guide to German Genealogy Websites; by James M Beidler

Unofficial Guide to, How to Find Your Family History on the No. 1 Genealogy Website; by Nancy Hendrickson

The Family Tree Historical Maps Book, A State-by-State Atlas of US History, 1790-1900; by Allison Dolan

The Family Tree Historical Maps Book – Europe, A Country-by-Country Atlas of European History, 1700s-1900s; by Allison Dolan

How to Archive Family Photos, A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally; by Denise May Levenick

Unofficial Guide to, How to Find Your Family History on the Largest Free Genealogy Website; by Dana Mccullough

The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried and True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors; by Marsha Hoffman Rising

The Genealogist’s U.S. History Pocket Reference: Quick Facts and Timelines of American History to Help Understand Your Ancestors; by Nancy Hendrickson

The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Germanic Ancestry in Europe; by James Beidler

Family Tree Pocket Reference, 2nd Edition; by Diane Haddad

From the Family Kitchen, Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes; by Gena Philibert-Ortega

The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe: Your Essential Guide to Trace Your Genealogy in Europe; by Allison Dolan

In Search of Your GERMAN ROOTS: A Complete Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors in the Germanic Areas of Europe

gpc396In the United States, more people can trace their ancestry to Germanic roots than any other national or ethnic background. However, having a German ancestor does not mean that ancestor came from what constitutes modern day Germany. Throughout history, German speaking people lived throughout Europe, “from the Baltic to the Crimea, from the Czech Republic to Belgium.” Over time, identifying and researching archives and resources has become easier, but guidance and insight is always welcome.

Helping other search their own German ancestors, is why Angus Baxter wrote In Search of Your GERMAN ROOTS: A Complete Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors in the Germanic Areas of Europe. Since its first printing in 1987, this guide has tried to facilitate the research process by identifying archives and resources and helping researchers correspond with the managing organizations.

In the introduction, the author made this comment in describing the purpose of this book: “As you turn the pages of this book you will learn about the history of the German people; yo will find out what resources are available; and you will find out where to locate these sources of information.” Stated plainly, this should be the purpose of any genealogical research guide. In authoring In search of Your GERMAN ROOTS, Baxter keeps focus on this purpose, not wasting words or pages, but imparting highly valuable guidance in only 125 pages.

Now in its fifth edition, and with the increased access to research via the Internet, this guide takes a strong roll in guiding readers to finding resources online, handles easily from home. Correspondence and research requests are still key to success, but today email is more common than letters or phone call, and online accessible databases reduce the amount of leg work involved in finding and identifying records.

“This edition of the book highlights all of the recent developments—new facilities, new websites, newly available records—that have made German family history research immeasurably easier.”

Here are just a few of the ‘developments’ in recent years that are covered inside this book:

  • Kirchenbuchportal, a new Internet portal to German church records
  • Availability of online Jewish records from Landesarchiv Daden-Wuerttemerg (previously only available by visiting the archive in Stuttgard)
  • Online access to approximately 2,000 historic German-language newspapers
  • Easier access to vital records in Germany due to a change in privacy laws
  • and so much more…

Angus Baxter authored this book and made all the changes to its second and third editions. After passing in 2005, his daughter Susan Baxter updated the book for its forth edition. This new completely updated and revised fifth edition was by Marian Hofffman. To this fifth edition Susan Baxter added this heartfelt dedication to her father, indirectly acknowledging what we can all feel in reward to dedicated family history research:

“All my life I have known exactly where I come from; not just the town of my birth, but the roots and lives of my ancestors. I know the roads they walked, the fields they farmed, and the sheep they sold at market. I have even seen the houses where some of them lived This is entirely because of my father, Angus Baxter, and his passion for genealogy. The contentment it has brought me is beyond measure. I am so lucky to have had the parents I did. My father loved life and he loved his family. My mother, my daughter, and I all basked in this love. Thank you, Daddy. I miss you.”



Chapter 1: Starting the Search

Chapter 2: The Germans and Germany

Chapter 3: The Records of FamiliySearch

Chapter 4: Jewish Records

Chapter 5: Church Records

Chapter 6: Immigration

Chapter 7: Vital and Other Records

Chapter 8: Archives in Germany

Chapter 9: Genealogical Associations in Germany

Chapter 10: German Genealogical Associations in North America

Chapter 11: Online Resources

Chapter 12: Continuation




In Search of Your GERMAN ROOTS: A Complete Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors in the Germanic Areas of Europe is available from Family Roots Publishing (just click the book title to order)


Comments made about previous editions of this book:

“The book contains numerous lists: lists of churches, dates and lists of time periods for people who migrated to Russia, state, city, and parish archives (Protestant and Catholic), and in addition to the associations in North America, Mr. Baxter has provided a list of genealogical societies in Europe. . . . In Search of Your German Roots will most definitely provide you with a very comprehensive guide to locating your German ancestor. It is an orderly description and you need to use it in an orderly manner to gain the greatest benefit.”

German Genealogical Society of America (Jan/Feb 1996)

“This edition is an update of the original edition published in 1985, and it therefore includes details of changes brought about by the reunification of Germany. It contains German addresses with the new five-digit postal code and covers changes in local government, the locations of record offices, and record-keeping practices. Baxter’s work is recommended for public library collections as well as genealogy collections in academic libraries.”

American Reference Books Annual, 1995


Swiss and German Pioneer Settlers of Southeastern Pennsylvania — 50% OFF

gpc1700History is the key to our future. You have heard this before. However, history is also the key to our past. You have probably heard this before as well.

Understanding at least some of the general history; including government, laws, religion, economy, along with specific events; of where your ancestors came from is necessary to finding records for your ancestors, but also critical to understanding your ancestor and the lives they led. You probably already know this as well.

So, for those of you with German and Swiss ancestors in early America, who can appreciate the value of history, here is a history book worthy of your time: Historic Background and Annals of the Swiss and German Pioneer Settlers of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and of Their Remote Ancestors.

Compiled originally in 1917 by H. Frank Eshleman, this book examines “an authentic history, from original sources,” the leading events during “several centuries before and especially during the two centuries following the Protestant Reformation,” as these relate to the lives of early Swill and Palatine Mennonites and other Germans of eastern Pennsylvania, and particularly of Lancaster County.

Annals in this book are presented chronologically, beginning as early as 1009 with “Earliest Authentic Appearance of the Herrs” and progressing forward through 1782. These pages document the lives and the migrations of thousands seeking religious freedom and salvation from persecution throughout Europe, and ultimately the drive west across the ocean to settle in mass in the areas of the Susquehanna and Schuylkill valleys and outward from there.

There are two indices in this book. The first serves is an index of items which servers as something of a non-chronological, but alphabetical table of contents. The second is an index of personal names. There are 19 1/2 pages of names listed for an estimated 1800+ surnames for individuals and families.

If your family history includes colonial period German and/or Swiss ancestry, then Historic Background and Annals of the Swiss and German Pioneer Settlers of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and of Their Remote Ancestors may very well be the book you need to read. Available from Family Roots Publishing. Now on Sale, 50% OFF through Thanksgiving, 2015.




The First Wave: German Immigration to America – 15% Off Thru August 3, 2015

hbt0797Since Columbus introduced (or re-introduced if you prefer) the Americas to Europe, people have come, wave after wave, seeking a new life in the rich new world. America, since its colonial days, has experienced an almost never ending flow of immigrants. There are at least four identifiable time periods in which “waves” of people came from all over the world. There are also “waves” of people who came in mass from specific countries or areas. For example, most of the earliest colonists came from England. During the Great Depression people came in droves from all over Europe and the world. Masses of Irish came during and after the Great Famine. Some of the most overlooked, yet largest waves of immigrants, were the Germans. German Immigration to America: The First Wave examines those Germans who immigrated during the colonial period.

Germans were among the earliest colonist to the Americas. They are also one of the cultural groups who came in waves of mass migrations repeatedly over the years. 1708 saw the beginnings of the first major wave of German immigration. This book looks into the history of this important migration event. The book examines why such a large population of Germans immigrated suddenly, and in such numbers. The Germans brought with them many important trades and skills. Over the years, their contributions to the United States have often gone unrecognized and unrewarded, but their contributions were nonetheless of great value. The book’s introduction comments on  Germans contribution to this country. It also provides some background to the German areas of Europe, and introduces the bulk of the book.

Beyond the introduction, this books is actually the compilation of two separate works which examine the German population that made up this “first wave.” The first chapters is a copy of “The German Exodus to England in 1709,” by Frank Reid Diffenderffer. The pages appear as they did in the Pennsylvania German Society Proceedings and Addresses 7 (1897). There are 156 pages in this section, numbered as they appeared in the aforementioned work, pages 247 to 413. The official contents (from the contents page) for the section are listed below. However, the subsections and page titles give a better look into the actual content. Here are just some of the extra titles to look for in this section of the book:

  • German Exodus to England in 1709
  • Inquiry into their Coming
  • Forwarded at the Queen’s Expense
  • Royal Proclamation
  • The Edict of Nantes
  • Immigration Attributed to the Act
  • Catholics Sent Back
  • The Germans Issue an Address
  • Occupations of the Germans
  • Narcissus Luttrell’s Diary
  • Proposals Received from Ireland
  • The Linen Industry Established
  • Thrifty, Hones, and Prosperous

The second work cited is “The German Emigration to America,” by Henry Eyster Jacobs. Jacobs work appeared in the Pennsylvania German Society Proceedings and Addresses 8 (1898), pages 31 to 150. Like the other section of the book, this section’s subtitles add additional insight to the contents not clear from the official contents as listed below. Here are some of the subtitles:

  • Inducement to Settlers
  • Description of the Carolinas
  • Cost of the Voyage
  • Value of Boehme’s Service
  • Contract with Emigrants
  • Hebron Ev. Lutheran Church
  • Covenant of the Palatines
  • Trebecco’s Sermon
  • Piratical Depredations
  • Fatalities on Shipboard
  • Refuge in Prayer
  • Trouble with Governor Hunter
  • Germans at the Front
  • They Secure More Land
  • Mistaken Views
  • Continued Immigration

The books introduction put forth that many Germans indicated “the French ravages in 1707″ as a key reason for leaving Germany. Military aggression in the German states was high at the time Germans began leaving the area in mass. This, and so many other reasons, are explored throughout the pages of this book. Either way, it is clear that Germans were among the first and largest group of immigrants to the United States and with them came vital skills and a heavy cultural influence.


Contents for “The German Exodus to England in 1709″


1. Immigration Begins

2. The German Exodus to England in 1709

3. Causes Leading to the Exodus

4. The Stay in England

5. The German Colony in Ireland

6. Conclusion

7. Cost of Maintaining These Germans



Contents for ” The German Emigration to America”

1. The Effort to Turn German Emigration to South Carolina

2. The Immediate Results of Kocherthal’s Pamphlet

3. The Palatine Emigration to New York

4. On the Ocean

5. In New York

6. To Pennsylvania


Order German Immigration to America: The First Wave from Family Roots Publishing. Sale Price $26.35; Reg. $31.00

Across the Atlantic and Beyond: The Migration of German & Swiss Immigrants to America – 15% Off Thru August 3, 2015

Across the Atlantic and Beyond: The Migration of German and Swiss Immigrants to America is an attempt to explain the genealogical mysteries associated with so many immigrant families. Why are there so many different spelling changes for family names? What drove people to move around? What factors contributed to the turbulent environment so many lived in? What was life like on the move? These questions are examined through the stories of two men and their descendants as they immigrated form place to place, and with a review of other historical factors considered to have been key elements in the politically, religiously, and economically difficult times endured by so many.

Across the Atlantic and Beyond opens and closes with a family story. The first is the tale of Gerrit Hendricks(ca. 1649-1691) and three generations of his migratory descendents. The final chapter concludes by counting the tale of Jacob Marzolf (1780-1870), an American immigrant. The intermediate chapters takes the reader through a step-by-step analysis of how these family histories were derived and the motivation behind these families migratory patterns. Genealogist encounter many frustrations and difficulties in their research. Name changes, plus map and border changes, are just a couple of the problems one may encounter in researching their immigrant ancestors. As to why people move from place to place, he obvious answer is war, famine, and disease. However, the author, Charles R. Haller, digs deeper looking for a root cause, or a collection of changes which moved the political and economic landscape.

The inner chapters of this book examines events such as the development of the moveable type printing press, the Reformation as begun by Martin Luther and advent of religious sects outside of the Catholic church, as well as the effects of industrialization. Many names are encountered withing this study. “As a necessary diversion, the changes in spelling of representative Germanic names is documented through various family histories from its origin in a European country to its modern occurrence, often Anglicized, in America.” In addition to all the above, the book gives an account of transportation in and around the Rhine River. Transportation along this major thoroughfare is examined from the earliest use to the time of steamboats.


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables




Part 1: Gerritt Hendricks of Krisheim, Germany

Part 2: Changes in German Surnames and Personal Names

  • Hendriks and Hendricks
  • Surnames and Personal Names
  • Mechanics of Name changes
  • Heinrich Buchholtz alias Henry Pookeholes

Part 3: Changes in City and Village Names

  • City and Village Names
  • Griesheim / Krisheim / Kriegsheim
  • Old European Maps
  • Early American Maps

Part 4: Mennonites, Quakers and the Settlement of Pennsylvania

  • The Wandering Menno Simons
  • The Beginnings of English Quakerism
  • William Penn’s Travels in Europe
  • Early german Quakers: A Small Minority
  • The Frankfort Companie
  • Germantown and the Susquehanna Subscribers

Part 5: Protestantism and books: Driving Forces Behind the German Migration

  • Mainz and Gutenberg
  • Frankfurt and the Book Fair
  • Martin Luther and the Book Wars
  • The Froschauer Presses of Zurich
  • Matthaus Merian and the House of Merian
  • The Rhine Travel Guides

Part 6: The Push and the Pull

  • The German Americans
  • The Land of Wars
  • Of Kings and Queens and Lesser Nobility
  • The Rhine as a Migration Route
  • Across the Atlantic and Beyond
  • Bridging the Prairies of Kansas

Part 7: Jacob Marzolf and Alsace




Across the Atlantic and Beyond: The Migration of German and Swiss Immigrants to America is available from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HBH0697, Sale Price: $29.75; Reg. $35.00.

Ohio’s German Heritage – 15% off Thru July 23, 2015

Germans make up the second largest ethnic group in the United States, second only to the English. Over the years, groups of Germans migrated in waves, the first wave coming during the colonial period. German influence and settlements spread from the colonies outward. Ohio’s German Heritage looks at the influence of German immigrants in the area that now comprises Ohio.

The book provided an historical brief on Germans in Ohio through the following five time periods:

  • The colonial period, or time prior to the American Revolution
  • The New Republic; until 1830
  • The mass migration and settlement period; from 1831 to World War I
  • The world wars period
  • The ethnic period; the later 20th century

In addition to the history provided in each chapter, there is also a list of other readings and relevant materials the reader can choose to find and read on their own.


Table of Contents



The Colonial Period

The New Republic

Mass Immigration and Settlement

The World Wars Period

The Roots and Ethnic Revival Period



Select Bibliography



Ohio’s German Heritage is available from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HBT2035, Price: $9.35; Reg. $11.00.

German Studies part of Pre-Conference day of events

Press release from NGS:


German Studies: Understanding German Records and Methodology will be held on Tuesday, 12 May 2015, during the Pre-Conference day of events.

More Americans claim German ancestry than any other nationality. If you are one of those researchers with German ancestry, do not miss this singular opportunity to expand your knowledge and research capabilities. This German Studies seminar features three nationally known German speakers, Warren Bittner, CG, Baerbel Johnson, AG, and Carol Whitton, CG, discussing topics to help further your German research.

History affected an ancestor’s decision to leave Germany.  Learn key historical facts for various time periods and the events in which your ancestor may have participated.  You will want to attend if you need assistance with:

  • Finding an ancestor’s village of origin
  • Breaking through a brick wall
  • Learning about German administrative organizations
  • Locating maps
  • Understanding territorial changes
  • Contacting  German Archives
  • Thinking-outside-the-box suggestions

8:00    Doors open
8:30    “Finding a Town of Origin” (Baerbel Johnson)
9:45    “German Historical Maps and Territories” (Warren Bittner)
11:00    “Finding the Correct German Archives” (Carol Whitton)
12:00     Lunch
1:00    “Strategies for Solving German Research Problems” (Baerbel Johnson)
2:15    “German History Makes a Difference” (Warren Bittner)

Price is $110, and includes lunch.
To register, go to 
Registration is limited so register early!

Early Eighteenth Century Palatine Emigration: A British Government Redemptioner Project to Manufacture Naval Stores

Early Eighteenth Century Palatine Emigration: A British Government Redemptioner Project to Manufacture Naval Stores is a scholarly book, full of details and amassed facts in an effort to explain the mass migrations from the war torn Rhine Valley in the early 1700s.  The Palatines were driven from their homes, into the British Empire, by circumstance and desire for a war-free life. Promises were made and hope for something better drove thousands to flee only to be hampered at every turn as politicians, monarchs, and business ventures debated and held in fist the fates of these emigrants. Despite it all, many of these German emigrants and their descendants have played major roles in the American colonies and the overall welfare of what became the United Sates.

History buffs and family historians alike will appreciate the efforts the author has made to uncover the real driving factors, political and  personal, that led to so many Palatines fleeing their homes and seeking refuge throughout the British Empire, including Ireland and the New World. Through a careful and emotionally controlled review of facts, Knittle has made connections and uncovered facts which, in many cases, go against the presumptions and stories that have endured for hundreds of years. Take this example from the introduction written by Dixon Ryan Fox:

“For example, it has usually been state that the Palatine’s disgust for the treatment they had received in New York was an important factor in diverting subsequent German settlement from that province into Pennsylvania. By cool analysis the present author reveals how untenable is this thesis. He has been ready to throw out the dramatic and the picturesque when clouded with doubt or founded on error. He cites the ‘interesting legend’ set forth by his predecessors which had it that the five Mohawk Indians taken by Peter Schulyer to London were so grieved at the plight of the Palatines, then encamped on Blackhearth, that they gave the Schoharie Valley to the Queen on consideration that’s she would bestow it upon the emigrants; then he points out that the Palatines sailed from London before the Indians sailed from Boston, that four of the five Indians were not sachems and had no authority to grant Mohawk lands and that these lands were subsequently ceded at Albany to the province with no reference to the Palatines.”

The book contains a bonus for those whose ancestry leads back to these early German settlers. Contained within these pages are lists totaling around 12,000 Palatine names.

Uncover these truths for yourself, order your copy of Early Eighteenth Century Palatine Emigration: A British Government Redemptioner Project to Manufacture Naval Stores from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HBK1977, Price: $27.93.



Key to Footnote Citations

I. The Causes of the Early “Palatine” Emigrations

A. The emigrations studied

B. Area in Germany affected by the emigrations

C. Causes

1. Devastation of War

2. Severe winter of 1708

3. Oppressive taxation

4. Religion and land hunger

5. Liberal advertising of British colonies

6. Favorable attitude of British government

a. The aid given to foreign Protestants

b. The naturalization act of 1709

II. The Small Palatine Emigration of 1708

A. Members of the band

B. The trip down the Rhine River

C. Generous treatment in England

D. the settlement at Newburgh, New York

E. Financial difficulties of the colony

1. Kocherhal’s connection with the 1709 emigration

III. The 1709 Palatine Emigration

A. The emigration toward England

1. The preparations in Germany

2. The journey down the Rhine River

3. Subsistence and transportation to England supplied by the British government

4. The attempts to halt the unexpectedly large migration

B. The Palatines in England

1. The size of the immigration

2. The care of the Palatines in London

3. condition of the Palatines

4. Relations of Palatines with English populace

5. The difficulties of the government in relieving itself of the expense of the Palatines in London

a. Attempts to keep lists fail

b. Rio de la Plata proposal

c. Employment in Welsh mines

d. Newfoundland fisheries proposal

e. The proposal to settle in western England (Marquis of Kent)

f. West Indies proposal

g. Attempts to settle in England

h. Proposal to settle in Scilly Islands

i. Proposed settlement in Jamaica

j. Enlistments

k. The return of the Papists to Holland

C. Reasons for the absence of proposals from William Penn

IV. The Palatine Settlements in Ireland and North Carolina

A. Ireland

1. The invitation to send Palatines to Ireland

2. The Commissioners for Settling the poor distressed Palatines in Ireland

3. The government subsidies become objects of speculation

4. The desertion of the settlements

5. The attempts to make the settlement successful

a. Mr. Crockett’s mission

b. Subsidies for twenty-one years

6. The assimilation of the Palatines

B. North Carolina

1. Lords Proprietors’ proposal

2. Michel and his Swiss emigrants

3. Graffenried’s opportunity

4. Voyage and settlement under adverse conditions

5. Political difficulties in North Carolina

6. The Indian Massacre

7. The financial difficulties cause the failure of the settlement

8. The settlers without titles to their lands go to the frontier

V. The British Naval Stores Problem and ht Origin of the New York Settlement Scheme

A. Naval Stores—an English necessity

B. History of the Stockholm (Swedish) Tar Companies

1. Early companies

2. The 1689 Company pushes its advantage

3. The English desire for the carrying trade

4. The unfavorable balance of trade with Sweden

5. The Northern War makes conditions worse

C. The early interest in colonial production of naval stores

D. The attempts to secure colonial naval stores up to 1708

1. The request for importation birds

2. The Navy Board commissioners investigate New England possibilities

3. Governor Bellmont’s interest in the problem

4. The Bounty Act of 1704

5. The fear of woolen manufacturers in the northern colonies

6. Bridger appointed Surveyor of Woods

E. The Origin of the New York settlement scheme

1. Naval stores mentioned incidentally for Palatines of 1708

2. The Scotch settlement proposal of 1705

3. The Society scheme drawn up by Halifax

4. The proposal to settle Palatines in New York

F. The decision and plans form a government settlement in New York

G. The reasons for selecting New York

VI. A Government Redemptioner System

A. Preparation for settlement in New York

1. The optimistic expectations

2. Lands and conditions of grants suggested

3. The covenant requested by Hunter and agreed upon

4. War supplies and a minister

5. Transportation

B. The voyage

1. Time of sailing

2. Poor conditions on voyage

C. The reception in New York

D. The legend of the Indian gift of Schoharie

E. The search for suitable site for making naval stores

F. The settlement on Livingston Manor

VII. The Government Tar Industry in Operation

A. The conditions of life in the Hudson River settlements

B. The management

1. The organization

a. For supervision of the project

b. For maintenance of order

2. The supplies

a. Sources of supplies

b. System of distribution

c. Complaints about bad food

d. Charges of cupidity

3. The finances

a. The first year’s costs

b. The request for further grants DuPre’s return to London

c. The non-committal attitude of the Tory Treasury

C. The manufacturing of tar

1. Bridger’s defection

2. The 1711 expedition against Canada

3. Sackett, Bridger’s successor, in charge

4. The Palatine Commission to forward the work

5. Signs of progress int the tar-making

6. Tar manufacturing methods

7. Poor results from Palatine efforts

D. The reasons for the failure

1. Poor instruction and unwilling labor

2. Financial difficulties force the end of government subsistence

3. The effect of the “Ministerial Revolution” of  1710 upon the venture

4. The parliamentary investigation of the Palatine immigration in 1711

5. Hunter’s attempt to collect the debts incurred

VIII. The Palatine Settlements on the Frontier of the Old West

A. The dispersal

1. The Palatines receive permission to leave the government project

2. The suffering of the Germans in the winter of 1712

3. The Palatine preparations to go to Schoharie

4. The method of acquiring land titles

B. The Schoharie frontier settlements

1. Journey to Schoharie

2. The seven villages of the Palatines

3. Starting life all over in the Schoharie Valley

4. Social conditions

C. Relations with the provincial government

1. Reasons for Hunter’s opposition

2. the Bayard incident

3. The grant of the Palatine lands to the Seven Partners

4. Pressure on the Germans to accept the terms

5. The Vrooman incidents and the attempt to arrest Weiser

6. The Palatine mission to London

7. Hunter’s return to England and his opposition

D. The Palatines extend the frontier in the Mohawk Valley and the “Great Valley” of Pennsylvania

1. Governor Burnet’s orders and the first grants in the Mohawk Valley

2. The movement to the Tulpehocken section, around Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania

3. More Palatine grants and purchases in the Mohawk Valley

4. The continuation of Palatine immigrations to Pennsylvania

5. Reasons for the choice of Pennsylvania rather than New York

6. The New York naturalization act of 1715

7. The importance of pamphlet advertising in the Rhineland

E. The Palatines as frontiersmen

1. The hopes of the Board of Trade

2. The relations of the Palatines with the French and Indians

3. A suggested modification of Frederick Jackson Tuner’s thesis of the frontier influence

IX. Conclusion

X. Bibliography

A. Bibliographical guides

B. Primary Sources

1. Manuscript

2. Published

a. Official

b. Unofficial

C. Secondary Sources

1. General works

2. Special works

3. Periodical and learned society contributions

XI. Appendices-introduction to

A. The Kocherthal Party-the 1708 Emigration

B. The First Board of Trade List of Palatines in London (May 6, 1709)

C. The Embarkation Lists from Holland

D. The Roman Catholic Palatines Returned to Holland

E. The New York Subsistence List

F. The Simmendinger Register

G. The Pennsylvania Palatine Lists

H. The Petition List of Palatines in North Carloina

I. The Irish Palatine List

Across the Atalantic and Beyond: The Migration of German and Swiss Immigrants to America

There are a number of books which examine the history behind some of the mass German migrations to the Americas. There are some books which cover the valuable input so many of these German immigrants made to and for their new country. Across the Atlantic and Beyond: The Migration of German and Swiss Immigrants to America does both. The first and last chapters of this book delve directly into the lives of two different German immigrant families, both belonging to the author. The remaining chapters provide a step by step analysis of how these families’ histories were put together and what drove these families to move or migrate so often.

This books takes a careful look at major and minor historical events and people who were part of some driving factors in the mass migrations. Key elements in the research analysis include understanding the roles of the printing press and publishing businesses, the Reformation, and the relationship between the Reformation and printing to speed the spread of ideas. Location names and how they changed, religion, land, and government are all under review in one fashion or another within these pages. Not to be forgotten, the Industrial Revolution also played a major role in German-American history; thus, is covered in this book.

Rail and river transportation are examined with special attention to transportation upon the Rhine River. Technology, linguistics and other elements are also given space. Over thirty Illustrations and four maps are added for the reader’s benefit.


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables




Part 1: Gerrit Hendricks of Krisheim, Germany

Part 2: Changes in German Surnames and Personal Names

  • Hendriks and Hendricks
  • Surnames and Personal Names
  • Mechanics of Name Changes
  • Heinrich Buchholtz alias Henry Pookeholes

Part 3: Changes in City and Village Names

  • City and Village Names
  • Griesheim / Krisheim / Kriegsheim
  • Old European Maps
  • Early American Maps

Part 4: Mennonites, Quakers and the Settlement of Pennsylvania

  • The Wandering Menno Simons
  • The Beginnings of English Quakerism
  • William Penn’s Travels in Europe
  • Early German Quakers: A Small Minority
  • The Frankfort Companie
  • Germantown and the Susquehanna Subscribers

Part 5: Protestantism and Books: Driving Forces behind the German Migration

  • Mainz and Gutenberg
  • Frankfurt and the Book Fair
  • Martin Luther and the Book Wars
  • The Froschauer Presses of Zurich
  • Matthaus Merian and the House of Merian
  • The Rhine Travel Guides

Part 6: The Push and the Pull

  • The German Americans
  • The Land of Wars
  • Of Kings and Queens and Lesser Nobility
  • The Rhine as a Migration Route
  • Across the Atlantic and Beyond
  • Bridging the Prairies of Kansas

Part 7: Jacob Marzolf of Alsace




Copies of Across the Atlantic and Beyond: The Migration of German and Swiss Immigrants to America are available from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HBH0697, Price: $34.30.

The Germans in Colonial Times

hbb0090Germans are the second largest ethnic group in the United States. Only those of English descent are more numerous. Even so, both groups represent generations of families living in America. These days, around a million people each year legally immigrate to the U.S. Countless more people immigrate illegally into the country hoping for a better life. The number of Germans or English coming to the U.S. today is hardly measurable amongst other immigrant groups. However, because of the waves of immigration from these two countries hundreds of years ago, they are still the foundation for the larger part of the U.S. population. Not even the large influx of Scots and Irish ever matched the overall migration of Germans. Germans were among the earliest people to move in mass to the New World. The Germans in Colonial Times examines the life of the earliest German settlers, their lives, their participation in the colonies, and even their part in the Revolutionary War.

This book is a facsimile reprint of the original work by Lucy Forney Bittinger. Her initial release was in 1901. Her turn of the [last] century writing style and word choice add some flavor to the book. She was concerned about the lack of knowledge and information people had about these early Germans and their deeds, even by their decedents. Quoting from the forward, “…even the descendants of these Teutonic pioneers are often ignorant or—more inexcusable—ashamed of their progenitors…”

In these pages you will find stories and essays on the history of Germans in American. How and why they came, the skills they brought with them, and their contributions in the colonies and in the Revolutionary War. Learning the history of these early German settlers can provide a sense of appreciation for their works and contributions to the country as a whole. Plus, learning specific history can sometimes help lead researchers to unexpected information and sources of information.



  1. Conditions in Germany Which Led to Emigration
  2. Penn’s Visit to Germany
  3. Germantown
  4. The Labadists in Maryland
  5. The Woman in the Wilderness
  6. German Valley, New Jersey
  7. Kocherthal’s Colony
  8. The Great Exodus of the Palatines
  9. Pequae and the Mennonites
  10. The Dunkers and Ephrata
  11. The Schwenkfelder and Christopher Dock
  12. The Progress of Settlement in the Valley of Virginia and in Maryland
  13. The Germans in South Carolina
  14. German Colonization in New England
  15. The Salzburgers in Georgia and the Pennsylvania Germans in North Carolina
  16. The German Press
  17. The Moravians
  18. Conrad Weiser and the Frontier Wars
  19. The “Royal American” Regiment
  20. The Redemptioners
  21. The Germans as Pioneers
  22. The Germans in the Revolution
  23. “The Rear-Guard of the Revolution”


Learn of these early German with your own copy of The Germans in Colonial Times, available from Family Roots Publishing.

The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How To Trace Your Germanic Ancestry In Europe

fnw11As a publisher, I really appreciate reviewing books first capture my eye with clean and clear page design (typesetting). When simple clean fonts are chosen with structured and organized page elements meeting basic design guidelines. When photos, charts, samples, and images stand out on a page as independent elements, but don’t overwhelm the page making it difficult to continue reading, this marks a respect for the reader, making the learning process easier. This clear type of design seems to be a standard at Family Tree Books. Their titles The Family Tree Guidebook To Europe: Your Essential Guide To Trace Your Genealogy In Europe, 2nd Ed. and The Family Tree Problem Solver : Tried And True Tactics For Tracing Elusive Ancestors are great examples. There is a third book published by this group, which we have not previously reviewed but is worth a look, that continues this simple but elegant design model, The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How To Trace Your Germanic Ancestry In Europe. Of course, its not all just about the layout. The content matters, and to that we give credit on this new German book to its author, James M. Beidler.

The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How To Trace Your Germanic Ancestry In Europeis your standard guide to research German ancestry. According to the cover, this book teaches you how to:

  • “Retrace you German immigrant ancestors’ voyage from Europe to America
  • Pinpoint the precise place in Europe your ancestors came from
  • Uncover birth, marriage, death, church, census, court, military,and other records documenting your ancestors’ lives
  • Access German records of your family from your own hometown
  • Decipher German-language records, including unfamiliar German script
  • Understand German names and naming patterns that offer research clues”

The concepts taught and examples given in this book aren’t necessarily new. However, these ideas, lessons, and tips are relatively thorough and well thought out. Putting this guide into practice in your own Germanic research would be easy, and you are very likely going to find some ideas as new to you. Plus, as a new book, all the resource lists will be fresh and up to date, including any websites.

German research has many unique challenges, which you probably already know. Taking advice from experienced researchers, such as author James M. Beidler, can only help your progress. So, whether you are new to German research, or seasoned in your own right, you may just find something new and useful in The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How To Trace Your Germanic Ancestry In Europe.




Part I Linking Your Family Tree to German-Speaking Nations

Chapter 1 Your German-Speaking Heritage

Chapter 2 Identifying the German-Speaking Immigrant

Chapter 3 Pinpointing the Place of Origin

Chapter 4 The history of Germanic Lands

Part 2 Getting to Know the Old Country

Chapter 5 Understanding Germany’s Geography

Chapter 6 Language, Surnames, Given Names

Part 3 Tracing Your Family in German-Speaking Nations

Chapter 7 Civil Registration in Germany

Chapter 8 German Church Records

Chapter 9 German Census and Court Records

Chapter 10 German Military Records

Chapter 11 Printed Records

Chapter 12 German-Speaking Peoples Outside of Germany

Part 4 Advanced Sources and Strategies

Chapter 13 Putting it all Together

Chapter 14 What to Do When You Get Stuck


Understanding German Script

Sample Letters to Request Records

Civil Record Archives in Europe

Church Archives in Germany

U.S. Genealogy Archives and Libraries

Societies: German, Genealogical, & Historical

Publications and Websites



Your own copy of The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How To Trace Your Germanic Ancestry In Europe awaits from Family Roots Publishing.

Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents: Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Historical Manuscripts, NEW Second Edition

m0027Germans have long been a scattered people. Millions of Americans identify their ancestral roots as German. For many, however, their ancestors spoke German but never lived in what constitutes modern Germany. Some “Germans” never even lived is what could be called a German states or territories. From the middle ages on, German-speaking communities have thrived all across Europe, especially in the Eastern countries. Many identified themselves by their language, culture, and customs as German, but may have lived nowhere near modern Germany. The result is many German documents exist across a large geographical area in Europe. German, as a language, was used in written vital records across Europe. Documents were also written in other languages but by German hands; in particular, French and Latin were common.

Learning to read and transcribe these documents can be a stumbling block. The Gothic alphabet alone can be difficult to read, even if you speak fluent German. Fortunately, Roger Minert has taken his more than 20 years of experience and applied it to producing Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents: Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Historical Manuscripts. The original book is considered by many to be the preemptive guide on the subject. This new second edition extends the offerings, and will to serve those with German ancestry.

This book is so much more than a basic treatment of Old German Script or Gothic letters. This book examine the history, the development, the alphabet, and the handwriting of not only the German language, but also Latin and French in German documents. In the author’s own words, he as added the following features to this book, not previously handled by other authors:

  • “a brief but scholarly review of the history of handwriting styles and alphabets in German-speaking regions of Europe
  • the introduction of a computerized, normed set of Gothic alphabet characters
  • the inclusion of examples consisting of illustrations taken from genuine records
  • a methodology for deciphering Latin texts in German source documents
  • a methodology for deciphering French texts in German source documents
  • the introduction of the only modern technology to be applied to the deciphering of words and names in old handwritten German documents — the reverse alphabetical index”

In addition to all this well-defined and unique information, the author facilitate the learning process with over 150, now, 200 illustrations. These documents are used step by step along the path taught in this guide to decipher German handwriting. In many cases, the author has provided a transliteration to a modern typeset face of the sample’s text, a translation into English, and a useful analysis to better understand both the type of document as well as key points in the deciphering of the contents.

The following are new to this second edition:

  • In-depth examinations of the Fraktur, Gothic, and Latin alphabets
  • Extensive techniques for analyzing texts
  • 44 new documents from many subject areas
  • Nearly 200 images from original records
  • A new computer font more closely resembling the handwriting of original documents
  • Lists of genealogical terms in German, Latin, and French (both alphabetical and reverse alphabetical)

The new edition has 271 pages plus another 10 of front matter, totaling 281 pages. The first edition had a total of 192 pages. So – there are an additional 89 pages in the volume, with no upward change in price.

[A full table of contents is listed below]


Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents: Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Vital Records Written in Germany is available from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: M0001, Price: $27.44.


Table of Contents


How to Use this Book

Chapter 1: The Evolution of Handwriting Styles in Germany

  • Introduction
  • Early Handwriting Styles
  • Handwriting Styles after the Middle Ages
  • The Standardization of Handwriting Styles
  • The End of the Gothic Alphabet in Daily Use
  • Determining the Language of the Handwritten Document
  • Notes

Chapter 2: Deciphering German Handwriting in German Documents

  • Introduction
  • The Gothic Handwriting Alphabet
  • Lower Case Gothic Characters
  • Upper Case Gothic Characters

Consonant Clusters and Doubled Consonants

  • Diacritical Marks and Punctuation
  • Crossing the t and Dotting the i
  • Abbreviations
  • Similar and Confusing Characters
  • Numbers and Dates
    • Numerals
    • Days of the Week
    • Months
    • Time of Day
    • Seasons of the Year
    • Cardinal Numbers vs. Ordinal Numbers
    • Feast Dates
    • French Republican Calendar Dates
  • Learning to Write in the Gothic Alphabet
  • German Language Tools
    • German Grammar
    • German Syntax and Word Order
    • German Vocabulary
    • Archaic German Language and Dialect Variants
  • Personal Names
  • Place Names
  • Determining the Type of Record
  • Basic Tactics in Deciphering German Handwriting in Vital Record Entries
    • Extraction
    • Transliteration
    • Translation
  • Additional Tactics in Deciphering German Handwriting in Vital Records
    • Index
    • Chronology
    • Alphabet Sampler
    • Vowel/Consonant Environments
    • Syntactic Analysis
  • Deciphering Sample Vital Record Entries
    • Church Birth/Christening Records
    • Civil Birth Records
    • Church Marriage Records
    • Church Death/Burial Records
    • Civil Death Records
    • Other Types of Records
    • Summary
  • Notes

Chapter 3: Deciphering Latin Handwriting in German Documents

  • Introduction
  • The Latin Alphabet as Used in German Vital Records
  • Abbreviations in Vital Records entries in Latin
  • Numerals
  • Dates
  • Latin Grammar
  • The Elements of a Typical Latin Church Book Entry
    • Column Entries
    • Sentence Entries
    • Paragraph Entries
  • Tactics for Deciphering Latin in Vital Records in German Documents
  • Summary
  • Notes

Chapter 4: Deciphering French Handwriting in German Documents

  • Introduction
  • The Practice of French Record-keeping in Germany
  • Church Vital Records in the French Language
    • Civil Registry Vital Records in the French Language
    • Civil Registry Pre-printed Entry Forms
    • Numerals and Dates
  • The French Republican Calendar
  • French Grammar and Language Tools
    • Gender
    • Number
    • Capitalization
    • Syntax
    • Vocabulary
    • Placement of Adjectives
  • Analyzing French Entries in German Church Records
    • Column-entry Church Records
    • Paragraph-entry Church Records
  • Analyzing French Entries in German Civil Records
    • Paragraph French Entries in German Church Records
    • Pre-printed French Entries in German Civil Records
  • Summary
  • Notes

Chapter 5: Additional Documents of Historical Importance

  • Introduction
  • Autobiography
  • Church Certificate
  • Personal Letter
  • Postcard
  • Telegram
  • Business Letter
  • Employment Identification
  • Recommendation
  • Business License
  • Public Schools
  • Government Family Records
  • Court (Guardianship)
  • Court (Divorce)
  • Court (Name Change)
  • Marriage Contract
  • Military
  • Report of Death in Battle
  • Proof of Military Service
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Citizenship
  • Residential Registration
  • Passenger Lists
  • Emigration Application
  • Passport
  • Trans-Atlantic Travel
  • Church Records
  • Standards for Church Records
  • Church Birth Certificate
  • Church Marriage Certificate
  • Baptismal Entry
  • Confirmation Entries
  • Marriage Entry
  • Death Entry
  • Family Record
  • Membership List
  • Parish Constitution
  • Church Council Minutes
  • Baptismal Entry in Latin


Foreign Language Competence

How to Use a Reverse Alphabetical Index

Annotated Bibliography

  • Works Cited in This Book
  • Additional Works Recommended to Family History Researchers



  1. The Printed Gothic/Fraktur Alphabet
  2. German Genealogical Vocabulary
  3. German Genealogical Vocabulary: Reverse Alphabetical Order
  4. Latin Genealogical Vocabulary
  5. Latin Genealogical Vocabulary: Reverse Alphabetical Order
  6. French Genealogical Vocabulary
  7. French Genealogical Vocabulary: Reverse Alphabetical Order
  8. Common Genealogical Symbols Found in Vital Records in Germany
  9. German Empire Civil Registry Entry Forms (1876–1918)
  10. Computer Translation of Old Church book Entries


Deciphering Gothic Records

ftp3Deciphering Gothic Records is a great little flip book designed to help those with German ancestry read and understand older German documents and handwriting. The books contents include information and words common to traditional vital records; including; birth, christenings, marriages, deaths, and burials.

Fay S. Dearden created Deciphering Gothic Records: Useful Hints for Helping You Read “Old German” Script to provide the researcher with common alphabet variations, German words, names, Latin terms, and abbreviations in Gothic records. For example, under “Symbols” a list of of marks are show with their German meaning and English translation. One mark we know, or is at least similar to today’s asterick, means gobren or born. Another looks like two small boxes connected on the under side by an downward arching line means twin boys.

This booklet is printed on cardstock and measures in at 4.25″ x 9″. This little guide is small enough and tough enough to toss in bag or purse and take with you to the library. Spiral bound on the top also makes it easy to read and use while researching.


Contents include:

  • Complete alphabet, with both lower and uppercase, letter variations
  • Symbols
  • Common words in German and English, with handwritten examples for:
  • Birth records
  • Marriage records
  • Death records
  • Abbreviations in both Gothic and Latin (English)
  • Latin terms
  • Illness related terms
  • Titles and occupations
  • Common German names


Add this great guide as an added bonus to any order at Family Roots Publishing. Deciphering Gothic Records: Useful Hints for Helping You Read “Old German” Script.

Witter’s German-English Primer

Language barriers are always present when researching one’s ancestors prior to their arrival in America. Both language barriers and unique handwriting forming these barriers can be difficult to surmount. One great tool available to help researchers with their German is an actual early German school book.

Every now and then a book will find new life. Sometimes a movie or newsworthy incident will bring a book back into the forefront and it will experience a revitalization. Sometimes a book will find new life for a purpose other than its original intent. So it is with Witter’s German-English Primer and New First German Reader for Public Schools, Revised Edition. This book was originally produced in 1881 as a German primer for American students. Over a century later, the book has found a new purpose, not for children, but for genealogists.

This German reader is a perfect guide by example to helping English researchers decipher old German Script. The book was produced as a mixed line by line reader of German with English translations. A line in German is followed by a line in English. In the first part of the book, the German line is written in both a “Gothic” like typeset, followed by typed English, and the following line by a script font representing the handwritten form of the letters and words. Other parts of the book use paragraph style mixed line German then English translation with “handwritten” German at the bottom.

The model used in the this book was one of many renditions of German script used in the 19th century. To assist the researcher, two other alphabet models are included in the appendix. Using these script models, researchers can improver their chances at deciphering older German records; thus, taking an old book and putting it to positive use in a new way, for genealogical research.


Order your copy of Witter’s German-English Primer and New First German Reader for Public Schools, Revised Edition from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: IGH02, Price: $6.88.